Written by Fernando Ramos
Snap Judgment: Summer 2010 Amagami SS
By Fernando Ramos
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Junichi Tachibana is an ordinary high school student who is hung up on a girl who ditched him on Christmas Day. One day in school, he manages to befriend the class idol, a gal named Haruka Morishima. But how will he manage to not make his sister ($?!?!?$#*($^&*!@$^&*RYH) jealous?
I have trouble remembering a single damned thing about this show. It wasn’t a bit surprising when I read Amagami SS was based off a visual novel, given the constant stream of pained (and painful) narration and the promise in the episode title of this only being the “Haruka Morishima Chapter,” implying that our hero will go through a bevy of beauties by the time this show’s run is over. Like When They Cry, except with no murder, much to our dismay.
Okay, full on confession time here: I sometimes play some of those dating sim games, albeit not the one that this is based on. (It’s for my Japanese study, I swear!) The whole reason for their existence is to be full of banal conversations that somewhat approximate the experience of actually talking to another human being. Take True Love Story, where there is literally a conversation system, which you have to create a combo to make it with the GIRL OF YOUR DREAMS.
Looking at how Amagami SS is structured, it falls neatly into that category. The walk home with your best friend who’s more like your real life self in that he “reads” too many Gravure photo-books and thinks about girls too much. The girl who likes you because some chance encounter happened to make her talk to you and see what a strapping young lad you are. The hot little sister who will almost invariably turn out to not be related to you by blood so you can stop feeling guilty over the identity crisis. It’s all here and it’s all paint by numbers. At least the girls are kind of pretty.
What I’m saying here is that if you really want this kind of experience, just save yourself the trouble of watching someone else go through the motions and just play a visual novel dating game. At least then YOU YOURSELF can get the girl and save the world… or something.
There is however one scene I liked: In the middle of the episode, Tachibana gets caught up in his inner monologue to the point that his best friend starts waving his hand in his face, the rambling still going on all the while. I guess it’s nice that the producers are in on the joke at least.
Premiered: July 3rd, 2010
Produced by: AIC
High School of the Dead
Takashi Komura and his friends are having a bad day. Some strange guy took a bite out of one of the teachers and next thing anyone knows, zombies are flooding the school. Friends turn on each other; teachers start committing suicide and nobody’s got a gun in Safety Country Japan. It’s going to be a long ride.
I once picked up a volume of the manga High School of the Dead on a whim quite some time ago. It was a bloody mess with as many panties as splatters, but it was very much aware of zombie movie conventions while still not going into a Shawn of the Dead-style parody. While certainly an enjoyable afternoon was spent trying to decipher kanji, only to give up and just enjoy the mayhem, I didn’t continue reading it. Needless to say I was excited to see Madhouse doing the anime, a studio infamous for their bloody action pieces.
Judging from the first episode, Madhouse knows who their audience is and boy do they pander. This isn’t a complaint however. This is a show about girls with fat distributed to all the right places and the zombie bashing boys who love them. If anything, the more exploitative and disgusting the show becomes, the better. It may not go to Gantz levels of ultra violence and insanity just yet, but boy does it try. What else can be said about a scene where a girl gets torn apart by zombies while the camera focuses on her bright yellow panties as she goes through has her death spasms?
Speaking of ultra violence, fans of George Romero’s Dead movies or 28 Days Later will be right at home. Beyond the gratuitous butts and boobs, the show focuses on the psyches of people as society starts to crumbles. Hell, even the final act of the first episode is accompanied by a riff on the “In the House in a Heartbeat” track from 28 Days Later so directly that I’m wondering if any lawsuits are soon in the works.
It’s been done before, but, honestly, it’s novel to see it applied in the setting of a Japanese high school where zombies lurch and dismember as the cherry blossoms of the spring season flutter all around. (HEY GUYS DID YOU KNOW THAT CHERRY BLOSSOMS ARE A METAPHOR FOR THE SHORTNESS OF LIFE?! SUBTLE) And just when I start questioning why isn’t anyone actually using their cell phone like a good Japanese kid would do, the action starts to get going. It’s so fast, brutal and slickly animated that it almost makes you ignore the constant flashes of female glutei.
And that right there will be the deal breaker for most. The show isn’t afraid to show some skin only to tear it off soon after. This first episode alone rivals the Agent Aika or Najica for most panty flashes per episode, yet it has far more bloodshed than any show that doesn’t have Rainbow or Koro Ni in the title. Unlike those other shows however, there is an overt sexual component to the slaughter.
To those who find the constant cheesecake a turn-off but still want to see a fun zombie gore-fest that happens to have Asian schoolgirls, I recommend a little J-indie flick called Stacy.
It’s just as full of chainsaws, machine guns, severed-limbs and pleated blue skirts, but it’s more tongue-in-cheek and far, far less lascivious. For the rest of us, it’ll just be a stop on the way to next week.
Grade: B+, if you can stomach the fanservice, Otherwise, C-
Premiered: July 3rd, 2010
Produced by: Madhouse
Shino isn’t quite sure what to make of Takatoshi Tsuda, the newest transfer student to a school that just recently became co-ed but is still overflowing with estrogen. So she does what she knows best: she decides to make him her right-arm man (as right hand would be too romantically suggestive) on the student council. That’s all well and good, but what the hell is the first male student council member in the school’s history to do? And when will Suzu, a girl who’s 16 going on 12, stop punching him in the face?
This is my B-Gata H-Kei for the season, most likely. It’s a show that’s naughty, isn’t afraid of a potty mouth yet stops short of being like the guy who thinks yelling out cock in a crowded room is edgy. Shino is constantly making references to her femininity in the most blunt terms and the rest of the cast isn’t much better. There’s just a thrill to be had in this, especially when so much of otaku fandom is obsessed with the virginal nature of its heroines. Me? I’m all about free love, sex, (alcoholic) drugs and rock & roll baby. It is the 90s and there is still time for Klax, but I digress.
That’s not to say that it’s this is at all a great show. The show betrays its 4-koma roots with the staccato pacing of the gags. The rhythmic pacing is a little jarring, especially considering that other 4-koma-based shows like the aforementioned B-Gata and Azumanga Daioh managed to be much more subtle in stitching together the jokes into a cohesive whole. As it stands, I am amused and I don’t mind having this show on the summer line-up.
Premiered: July 4th, 2010
Produced by: GoHands